Karin Torrice - Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage


Buying a home is a process that can seem daunting and even a little scary to most first-time buyers. After all, being a homeowner is a huge financial and personal responsibility.

To make this lengthy process a bit more approachable, we’re going to break it down into five steps. While these five steps may be somewhat different for each person, depending on their own unique situation, they do comprise most home buyer’s experience.

If you’re interested in learning the steps you’ll need to take before owning your first home, read on.

Step 1: Know your long-term goals

Before you buy a home, you’ll want to have a clear understanding of what you, your spouse, and your family want from the next five or more years. You’ll want to make sure the area you’re moving to can provide things like career advancement and opportunity, good schools for your children, and so on.

These questions may seem obvious, but it’s an important conversation to have before making the long-term commitment of owning a home.

Step 2: Your budget and your needs

It might be tempting to hop online and start shopping for houses, but first you should get a clear idea of the size and cost of the house you’re looking for. This involves determining your budget, thinking about your credit and planning for your down payment.

Step 3: Mortgage pre-approval

Getting preapproved for a mortgage can be a great way to gauge the interest late and loan amount you’ll be approved for. You’ll need to gather paperwork, including income information (pay stubs), tax returns, and W-2 forms.

Be aware that lenders will run a detailed credit report. Since credit reports count as an inquiry, they can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.

Applying to several lenders within a short period of time can make a significant impact on your score. However, it will start to rise again within a few months if you don’t open any new credit accounts or take out other loans.

Step 4: Get an agent

Real estate agents know the ins and outs of the home buying process better than anyone else. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and provide you with information that you can’t get anywhere else.

Step 5: Pick the right home for you

Now it’s time to start home shopping. However, before you begin, remember that getting approved for a loan doesn’t mean you must or should seek to spend the full amount on a home.

Plan for your needs, and keep the future in mind. Someday you might decide to upgrade, but in the meantime you can be building your credit and building equity in a smaller or more frugal home.


Completing a successful homebuying journey may be difficult, especially for those who do not plan ahead. In fact, high-pressure situations may arise that lead you to make rash homebuying decisions. And if you make the wrong choices, you risk paying an exorbitant price to acquire your dream residence.

There is no reason to let high-pressure situations cause you to make poor decisions throughout the homebuying journey. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you map out your homebuying journey so you know exactly how to handle any high-pressure situations that come your way.

1. Maintain Flexibility

A high-pressure homebuying situation may make you feel like you are backed into a corner. However, it is important to remember that options are always available. And if you take a deep breath and step back and review a high-pressure homebuying situation closely, you can determine the best course of action.

Those who maintain flexibility as they try to acquire their dream home may be better equipped than others to handle high-pressure homebuying situations. Because if you maintain flexibility throughout the homebuying journey, you can take an objective view of the options at your disposal and proceed accordingly.

2. Establish a Budget

A budget generally is helpful, particularly for those who want to acquire a terrific home as quickly as possible. If you have a budget in hand, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a home. Then, if you face pressure to increase your offer to purchase your dream residence, you'll know whether you have the financing available to do so.

Keep in mind that the costs associated with purchasing a home extend beyond the price of a house itself, too. As you establish a budget, you'll need to account for closing, appraisal and inspection expenses and various other fees in addition to the cost of a house itself.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent can take the guesswork out of buying a house. He or she also will go above and beyond the call of duty to alleviate stress and ensure you can proceed with confidence as you pursue your ideal residence.

Let's not forget about the guidance that a real estate agent provides when you're ready to submit an offer to purchase your dream home, either. At this point, a real estate agent will help you craft a competitive offer to purchase your ideal house. He or she next will submit this offer to a seller on your behalf and negotiate with the seller as needed. If you and a seller come to terms on a home purchase agreement, a real estate agent will help you close on your dream home as well.

For those who want to simplify the homebuying journey, it helps to prepare. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you can get ready for high-pressure homebuying situations and speed up the process of acquiring your dream residence.


House hunting can be enjoyable but becomes overwhelming pretty quickly. After looking at many different houses, they can all start to look the same. It’s hard to remember what homes had what features. In order to make a right decision on which home to make an offer on, you’ll need to remember the details of each house. Read on for tips to help you house hunt like a pro.


Keep Track Of The Homes You Have Looked At


Whether you’re doing simple online searches or touring open houses, it’s easy for your mind to get jumbled as to what you have seen. It’s a good idea to keep a record of homes with their addresses as to where they are located, the color of the house, and the desirable features contained within the home. This way, you can have an overall picture of what you want. 


Know What Features Are Important 


You should make a list of everything you’re looking for in a home before you even start searching. Include things like:


  • The price range
  • How big of a house you’re looking for
  • How many bedrooms
  • How many bathrooms
  • Additional features like walk-in closets
  • Eat-in kitchen or dining room
  • What type of home you’re looking for
  • How many stories you want the home to be



You can then branch off from the essentials on the list adding other desirable features in a property like a pool, a jacuzzi, a large backyard, or a fireplace. Then, you should make a list prioritizing what is the most important to you in your home search. Things like the number of bedrooms and the size of the home will be a higher priority than a jacuzzi tub. 


Look At Your Commute


One of the most significant factors in finding a home is how far it is from your workplace. The closer you are to work, the less stressful your life will be. If you take the train or a bus to work, it may be easier to live close to a station or stop. On the flip side, to be closer to work what are you sacrificing? Are you close to schools, parks, stores, and other regularly visited spots? See what locations suit your lifestyle.


Review What You’ve Looked At

Once you have done your research and decided what you need and want, it’s time to make comparisons. Look at the prices of each home and see what they have to offer for the money. Once you decide the price and amenities are on par with your original wishlist, the house is a good candidate to put an offer on.             



When you put your home up for sale, it can be an emotional time. You need to say goodbye to a place where you have lived for at least a small portion of your life. You created memories in that home, and now, it’s the job of a new family to make new memories. 


Once the home is well on its way to being sold, there will be an appraisal of the property. It’s scary as a seller to think that the appraisal has the ability to actually halt the entire sale of the home. It can be a confusing process, to say the least, to have your home appraised. You have determined your listing price and received an offer on the home already. It seems like backtracking to value the home after this part of the sale process is complete. 


The Appraisal Removes The Tension


The appraisal is one of the factors that bridges the worlds of the buyer and the seller. As a seller, the things that you think add value to your home may not be all you have hoped them to be. As a buyer, you want to be sure that you’re paying a fair price for the home. Below, you’ll find some common myths about home appraisals and the truth about them. 


The Appraisal Is Not The Same As An Inspection


The home inspection is used as a tool to protect the buyer. Although the appraisal is used as a protection for the buyer, the two are separate entities. The inspector looks at everything in the home that can be a problem including leaks, cracks, and faulty electrical systems. The home appraiser is simply meant to find the objective market and the estimated value of the home in that market.


The Appraisal Isn’t How Much The Buyer Will Pay


While the appraisal gives a good estimate of the value of a home, it doesn’t take every single factor into account. It’s one version of how much the home should be priced at. What the appraisal does affect is the contract on the home. 


If the appraisal doesn’t match the contract price, let’s say that the home is appraised lower than what you’re paying for it, the lender will not make up the difference. It can become a discussion between the buyer and the seller to see who will pay for the additional uncovered cost of the home. The buyer can pay the difference themselves. The seller may decide to cover the difference themselves. Either way, this is where the home buying process can get kind of messy.


Bigger Homes Don’t Necessarily Appraise For More Money


Just because a home is bigger, doesn’t mean that it’s worth more than the smaller home next door. A larger home could have issues with age such as an older roof, or less complex fixtures. If a smaller home is more updated, it very well could appraise for more. Don’t count on the square footage to dictate the appraisal price of a home.


You’ve been binging on HGTV and DIY network every weekend while you save up your money and you’re ready to take the plunge. Your agent tours you through several potentials and there it is … the perfect corner lot, the mediocre house with the awkward layout, chopped up floor plan, aging kitchen, and dated bathrooms. It’s just waiting to reveal shiplap behind the cracked plaster, original hardwood floors under the stained and dusty carpet, and other treasures you can only dream about until their uncovered.

You make the deal … now it’s all yours. Where do you go from here?

Find the right professional
Ideally, a contractor with renovation experience toured the property with you, casting a professional eye over potential problems and exciting possibilities before you made the deal. If not, engage one now. Renovations require specific knowledge of structural issues like which walls to safely remove giving you that open-concept floor plan and which might be load-bearing. Experienced pros know when to call in an engineer to determine whether to expose the beams or if the wiring needs pulling. 

Make a plan
As with any project, make a basic plan before you start. Unlike new-builds, however, your plan might be more general until you’ve removed walls and studs, discarded old cabinets and fixtures, and revealed the location of existing drainpipes, wiring, support structures, and other hidden gems. With everything visible determined, it’s time for demolition. Just know that with a renovation, once demolition starts, plans can change. A supporting beam here, an unmovable drain there, a hidden chimney under that plaster … could derail your perfect original plans. When that happens, a pro can help you figure out what do.

Don’t underestimate time
Watching a 57-minute renovation on television might give you an unrealistic expectation of how long it might be until your home is ready. After all, you don’t have a trove of assistants ordering cabinets, changing out flooring samples and visiting showrooms to cull through items for you. Choice fatigue (the inability to choose between too many choices) can stymy a project for a novice.

Normal delays, hidden issues
You’ve planned, then modified the plans after the demo, selected, deselected, then re-selected the cabinets, flooring, and fixtures. Now it’s time to get approvals and permits. Moving a project through the approval process in your municipality could be smooth sailing or rife with delays. Your professional contractor should help you navigate this process, but waiting for a permit can add days, or weeks to a project.

In addition to the normal delays, your demolition may uncover other issues that require remediation. These include lead, mold, asbestos, termite damage, shifting foundations, broken pipes, and myriad other possibilities. Bringing wiring up to code and changing out electrical panels consumes precious time and adds to the delays.

Before taking on a fixer-upper, seek the advice of a real estate professional with renovation experience to help you make a plan, and plan for contingencies.




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